Tuesday, November 11, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
November 10, 2008

Some of the things the media report in Africa can only happen in this continent. Africa is truly diverse! Take the case of 200 Somali MPs now stranded in Nairobi after coming for some IGAD conference; how on earth could this number of MPs leave their country to travel to a neighboring country for a meeting? If 200 MPs are still in Nairobi including their Speaker, who has been left in the country to deal with urgent parliamentary debates?

Right now the said MPs that have now relocated to the slum lodgings of Nairobi are blaming the UNDP, the EU and IGAD for their problems in Nairobi. What a terrible embarrassment to the Somalis worldwide! It defeats logic how MPs of a sovereign state, those who are charged with the responsibility of providing leadership to their people can actually look up to charitable organizations to foot their extravagant and meaningless trips abroad.

I have often travelled to Hargesia in Somaliland from time to time when duty calls. I once tried to get to Mogadishu and Baidoa but terminated my trip in Wajid due to security reasons. I know how expensive it can be to travel between Mogadishu and Nairobi. There are no scheduled commercial flights on this segment. The most reliable flights are the UN aircrafts that ply this route on humanitarian grounds. And they are extremely expensive for non- UN staff.

Normally the cost ranges between $ 1000 and $1500 for a return flight. Based on this estimate, flying 200 MPs out of Mogadishu would cost any Good Samaritan between $ 200,000 and $ 300,000 on a normal day. Housing the same 200 MPs for at least five days in a five star hotel would consume another $ 300,000. If one threw in another $ 100 per head for transport; one would be talking of $ 520,000 on Somali MPs alone for the IGAD meeting. Who would spend this huge amount of money without a budget line?

Only the heavens know why Africa and indeed the world are still baby-sitting an irresponsible government like the Transition Government in Somalia. No matter how many Ethiopian and Ugandan troops die in Mogadishu, there will be nothing to show for it. And the reason is simple; all these MPs were former warlords living in Nairobi illegally. They brokered peace and elected themselves to parliament in exile. No Somalis voted them back home. Now they have discovered that they not only lack the mandate to govern but are unable to pass meaningful laws and collect taxes to pay their salaries; hence the hunt for regional meetings. The truth is; the current Somali MPs including their Speaker and President Abdulahi Yusuf are political conmen that Africa does not need in this day and age.

Abdulahi Yusuf comes from Puntland yet pirates that province have colonized Somali waters and caused havoc to international trade. He cannot talk them out of it neither can he use his forces to bomb them out of these waters.

Two possible reasons may be at play. Either Yusuf and a small clique of his fellow warlords are in cahoots with these pirates for tidy handouts from time to time or some other warlords opposed to his regime are in charge.

Somali MPs stranded in Nairobi are complaining to the media that they have gone without salaries for the last seven to eight months! Whose business is it to pay them their salaries? Aren’t they MPs of a sovereign state? They made their bed in Nairobi when they negotiated a hoax government in exile five years ago. Now is the time to lie on that bed.

One more thing; the Somali MPs cannot claim to be unable to survive yet next door in Somaliland, things have been working smoothly since the departure of Siad Barre over a decade ago. Since then, Somalilanders have been holding regular elections, managing a working government system, collecting taxes and paying their bills without a single recognition from any government. Yet, our Somali warlords from Mogadishu that are recognized by the AU, the EU and the UN and who received massive support from the Kenya government can still turn around and tell us that her MPs are stranded in Nairobi for lack of transport back home!

Can Minister Kajwang either deport these MPs or lock them up for being in Kenya illegally? Over to you Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang!